For years I resisted being in a critique group! Having been an editor and writer for curriculum and library publications I’d had had too much Really Good Stuff that got scraped by some opinionated person with a fancier chair. Plus I have enough form rejection letters to paper the office and a bathroom. Why would I voluntarily seek more criticism?
Then I found this definition of “critique”: One-one-one or group constructive feedback session in the form of a collaborative analysis of a design or issue integrated with brainstorming alternate solutions. And on a trip to Mayslake in Oakbrook I found a 6 week series of “critique sessions” led by author Carmela Martino. Armed with picture books of a dandelion and a wingless dragon, I signed up.
The first night was scary, but her ground rules were reassuring. We only responded to a class member’s story with positive statements and questions. Hardest of all was sitting silently while others talked! But after the first round, it was not “criticism” but real “critique” and helpful! (FYI: Carmela is beginning a new series of critique sessions soon. Children’s Writers Critique Class at http://mayslakepeabody.com/content/)
We 6 Blog Buds went through two sessions with Carmela before we started meeting on our own. Of course friendships have developed that ignore any life differences! I think the greatest benefit I get is the idea generation when I am stuck. If a character needs more definition or the ending is incomplete, they will spend time with me brainstorming how to make it better. Then they are treated to the rewrite the next month and end up wanting stuffed toys of all my animal characters!